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Susan Erony)

The Rise and Fall of Prussia by Sebastian Haffner (translated from the German by Ewald Osers; 60,000 words)

Sebastian Haffner regarded himself as “a Prussian with a British passport.” In this overview of Prussia’s 170-year history as an independent state, he depicts Prussia’s evolution from a sensational 18th century success story – “a state based on law, one of the first in Europe” – to its absorption into the Third Reich where “the rule of law was the first thing that Hitler abolished.” In this succinct and readable book, Haffner argues that Hitler’s racial and nationality policy was the opposite of Prussia’s and Hitler’s political style, the very opposite of Prussian.

“In his short book The Rise and Fall of Prussia Haffner combines a critical examination with a declaration of love for a state which always lived beyond its means ... but which managed to combine material poverty with intellectual grandeur.” — Michael Stürmer, Welt am Sonntag

“Haffner sees Prussia’s history as the 'tragedy of a purely rational state'. An agglomeration of arbitrary territories, it made a virtue of its artificiality, adapting to the enlightenment and then to romanticism, but finally also to nationalism, betraying the basis of its statehood and leading to its ultimate destruction.” — Chrisian Roth, Akademische Blätter

“Haffner long regarded himself as a 'Prussian with a British passport'. He identified with Prussia and its achievements: general compulsory schooling (1717), the abolition of torture (1740), the establishment of religious toleration (1740), Bismarck’s welfare state (1883), the medical giants Virchow, Koch, von Behring, the intellectual giants Kant, von Humboldt and von Schlegel, and much more. At the end of his book he recounted the (often-ignored) expulsion of millions of Prussians from their homeland in 1945. 'It was an atrocity, the final atrocity of a war which had more than its share in atrocities, admittedly begun by Germany under Hitler.' His message is very relevant today, when he praises those expelled for rejecting revenge and having the courage to say, 'This is enough.'” — David Childs, The Independent